If you’re starting to feel like your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, you’re likely suffering from SAD — seasonal affective disorder. The days are shorter and the sun never shines. Suddenly, you’re feeling lonely with no motivation to get out of bed and fix it. And while this seasonal depression can make your work and social life difficult, it can wreak havoc on your intimate relationships. But the West Michigan-based sex and relationship expert Dr. Megan Stubbs has your cure to these winter blues. We talked with Stubbs about how to let love win, even in the coldest of seasons.
1. Fly Solo
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might feel a twinge of loneliness in your stomach. Seeing your friends post on social media about enchanting dates with their significant others (or worse, getting engaged) can leave you green with envy. “Think of this as a time to celebrate you. When you see your friends posting all their happy love stories, know that you’re just seeing the highlight reel.”
Instead of dwelling over your friends’ Instagram posts, pop on your best outfit and make a reservation for one. “Consider Valentine’s day a day to give love or express love,” Stubbs said. Take the time to express your gratitude toward a friend or a co-worker. Or snuggle up on the couch for a Netflix marathon with your best bud, which could be your dog or cat! Valentine’s Day isn’t just for significant others anymore.
Revue's Tip: If you’re alone, eating at the bar is a good way to go. Check out The Green Well or HopCat for a solid solo experience. Or grab some high-class wine from Martha’s Vineyard and enjoy at home.
2. Do It for Your Health
“Sex is a natural antidepressant,” Stubbs said. After intimacy, most people tend to feel better, closer and even warmer. The surge of feel-good hormones in your brain will help counter the lack of serotonin — a neurotransmitter that affects happiness levels and is less present during seasons of low sunlight. That boost in serotonin can help your week at work feel less stressful. On top of that, swapping spit can boost your immunity. “Making out is swapping immunoglobulin A. When you kiss, you’re getting a boost in that,” Stubbs said. This exchange of low-levels of germs can give your immune system a little boost. But it’s not exactly cure-all if you feel an oncoming cold.
Revue's Tip: For an extra boost, head to a local health market like Fresh Thyme or Harvest Health Foods for nutritional supplements that can help with depression and immunity.
3. Ignore the Number on the Scale
Throw your fitness resolutions out the window and ignore the extra weight you might’ve packed on around the holiday. A fuller figure shouldn’t stop you from hitting the sheets with your partner. “You’re so much more than a number on a scale,” Stubbs said. “If you’re not feeling confident in yourself, then take stock in your body. Look at what your body is doing for you. You shouldn’t aspire for a size. You should aspire to feel good in the skin that you’re in.”
Revue's Tip: A great way to feel comfortable in your own skin is to hire a local photographer for a boudoir shoot. They’ll capture your true beauty.
Winter (especially as we head into tax season … yikes) usually equals busy schedules. Busy schedules create stress and fatigue. After a hard week at work, it’s easy to go out for a couple of drinks and come home, flop into bed and kill the lights. Stubbs suggests blocking out time and space by syncing up Google Calendars and scheduling a time together. “You would never treat a business relationship like, ‘Well, we’ll see each other at the golf course sometime,’” she said. “No! You plan and make time. You really do have to schedule time so that you’re both on the same page.”
Revue's Tip: Making a reservation helps set your schedule in stone. Restaurants like Luna and Terra make these appointments easy.
5. Change It Up
“If you know your partner likes X, Y and Z, then it’s time to change things up and try Q, H and Y,” Stubbs said. If you want to get your partner up and moving, then you must keep things interesting. Especially during a season when all we want to do is hibernate. “Be willing to fail. If it turns out horrible, laugh it off and move on. This should be a safe place.” Taking control goes hand-in-hand with changing things up. If you want to have a more intimate relationship, then it’s time to step up. Especially if your partner feels like crashing on the couch after work.
Revue's Tip: There’s far more ways to change it up than just in the bedroom. Visit a new restaurant, go rock-climbing together, take a mini road-trip to Kalamazoo or vice versa — whatever it takes.
Dr. Megan Stubbs is a full-time sexologist who writes for Playboy and has contributed to more than 50 publications as well as TV, radio and public speaking events.